Extra security measures at Bank of America near Bell Towers, 2 weeks after robbery attempt

Reporter: Annette Montgomery
Published: Updated:

The Bank of America near Bell Tower shops reopened on Feb 20, two weeks after a man who tried to rob the bank was shot by a sniper, people who bank at the branch said they see noticeable security measures and changes in the form of a uniformed guard at the front.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office had reported that Sterling Alavache, 36, had held up the bank on Feb. 6, claiming he had a bomb and had taken two people hostage before being shot dead by a SWAT sniper.

Bell Tower Shops
Sterling Ramon Alavache, 36. CREDIT: LCSO

The branch was closed for two weeks following the situation with only drive-through ATM services operational.

Bank of America officials confirmed with WINK News the bank opened on Feb. 20.

Marsha Brown McCulloch was in the bank the day Alavache walked in and she was next in line to see the teller. Marsha said she remembers Alavache running inside claiming he had a bomb and thinks about those moments often.

“He told us to leave, he told us to go,” McCulloch said. “It was crazy. He was jumping over everything and breaking things, he was trying to scare us.”

McCulloch along with Nicholas Rocha who works at the Outback Steakhouse nearby said they had no concerns walking into the bank they use frequently.

“I feel like what’s past is past. They’re probably making changes to combat it, so it doesn’t happen again, prevent it from happening again,” Rocha said.

Marsha’s husband Jim McCulloch walked into the Bank of America on Wednesday and said he had no hesitation walking into the bank that his wife was in two weeks prior during a tense situation.

“I think you got to get back to your routine and obviously you need to use a bank. I don’t think people would be crazy enough to change banks just because that happened,” McCulloch said.

People who bank at the branch told WINK the extra uniformed guard at the front does give them reassurance that they are safe.

“I was fine walking in, I knew the police had it under control,” Jinell Rodriguez said.

The State Attorney’s Office told WINK they are still investigating as they do with all shootings involved with Law Enforcement. They said they have no updates at this time.

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